Tuesday, March 12, 2013
In a recent Sunday school class we were discussing the aging process and the grieving of loss. The leader asked for examples of the loss that some aging people feel and the responses were not surprising. Some grieved the loss of abilities, independence, friends, family members, etc. Then the discussion turned to the anger that some people exhibit when they find themselves dependent on others. One woman asked how do you deal with anger directed toward the caregiver. This is especially hard when you are caring for a parent who is frustrated and lashing out.
Someone suggested that we should prepare a manual of instructions for our children to guide them when they become our caregivers. My first thought was, when did anyone ever learn from someone else’s mistakes?
In my own experience my mother was my model. I watched her care for her own mother and her aunt and I drew from that when it came time to care for her.
After my grandfather’s death my mother moved my grandmother closer to us so she could care for her. She made sure my grandmother found a church home where she could establish new friendships. Mom would drive my grandmother and her lady friends around taking them to lunch or any activities they might enjoy. She did everything she could to make my grandmother’s life easier.
Together they started a program at a local nursing home. Each Wednesday my mother and grandmother would go to the nursing home and perform a music program. My grandmother played the piano and my mother led them all in a sing-along. They made sure to include songs from the resident’s youth not just hymns. After the program they would serve cookies and punch.
When my twins were born they became regulars at the nursing home. They spent the first five years of their lives attending the Wednesday program. The residents enjoyed watching them as they grew from infants to wobbly toddlers then to pre-schoolers. The girls loved passing out the cookies when they were old enough and they enjoyed just sitting and holding hands with the residents as they sang along to the music.
As my mother aged and became in need for more care my daughters were there helping me care for her. One daughter cleaned her house each week and the other was her personal attendant. I remember hearing my daughter talking so sweetly to her grandmother as she helped her into a shower. They talked about all the times her grandmother had bathed her as a child. It was so sweet to hear them sharing memories. Then Jamie would fuss over her grandmother sprinkling powder on her and telling her she smelled just like “Grandma”!
My children and I were so lucky to have such a great role model. My mother definitely taught us the joy that comes from caring for someone you love. Her example was better than any manual she could have written. I'm very confident that I will be in capable hands one day.